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MTNL Paid March Salaries From Internal Accruals: CMD

State-run telecom major MTNL has paid the salaries for March from its monthly internal accruals and the firm is yet to hear from the government on its license extension application for Delhi and Mumbai, a senior company official said on Wednesday.

Paying salaries from internal accruals may be normal for private telecom operators, but for the two ailing government companies, MTNL and BSNL, this signals their slightly improved financials as both were struggling with salary problems in February leading the government to intervene.

MTNL has started seeing internal accruals that are covering salary bills. Its stock price is currently at Rs 11.85 per share.  “For March we have paid the salary bills from our monthly internal accruals of Rs 200 crore,” MTNL’s CMD Pravin Kumar Purwar told IANS.

In February, the Department of Telecom (DoT) has released Rs 171 crore towards the salary payment of 23,000 staff members of MTNL. Purwar said MTNL is yet to hear from the DoT on its license period extension application and declined to comment when asked if this could be regarded as the company operating beyond its license time period.

“I have nothing to say on that. We have received no communications, we have given our letter,” Purwar said. MTNL has sought a two-year extension as its licence expired on April 6, 2019. For renewing its 20-year licence, MTNL needs to pay a renewal amount of around Rs 11,000 crore.

In a series of letters to the DoT, MTNL has also said the year of licence allocation to it should not be taken as April 5, 1999, but January 11, 2001. Its renewal therefore should come up in January 2021, and not in April 6, 2019.

MTNL says that although it started basic telephony services in 1995, the company got its mobile licence in only January 2001, which should be considered for renewing the licence.

In one of its letters to DoT, MTNL has written that in the event the DoT does not agree with MTNL’s request, the Department should issue specific and unambiguous instructions to it to close down its services after April 5.

In case the DoT does not give any such instruction it will continue to operate its services based on the legal opinion it has received from the Additional Solicitor General.

The state-run unit reported a widening of its standalone loss to Rs 832.26 crore for the quarter ended December 2018, compared to about Rs 639 crore in the year-ago period. The loss during the third quarter of the last fiscal was a tad lower than the losses of about Rs 859 crore sustained in the previous quarter ended September.―Times Now

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